One Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402
Happyly is better in app
Get the Happyly app to discover more activities like this one, plus get curated adveture plans, build lists of activities to try and more!
Enter your phone number to receive a download link
The Tennessee Aquarium provides an indoor learning experience for the whole family!
The Tennessee Aquarium is conveniently located in downtown Chattanooga – right on the river – and is a great way to spend several hours. You purchase tickets in a building right on the courtyard and then hold on to your ticket to go into two separate buildings: one for the ocean and then a separate one for rivers. You can purchase tickets online, which is what we did and was super easy to have ready at door entry. Just pop open your phone and the team member will scan for entry. We had a group of five and even with a larger group such as ours, it didn't take long at all to enter.
In the ocean building, you can see sharks, penguins, jellyfish, crabs, etc. The river building holds otters, alligators, catfish, snakes, etc. There are several special events throughout the day, so you’ll need to watch the clocks and pay attention to the daily agenda to ensure you’re in the right spot at the right time. My kids and I spent more time in the river building – it felt like this was more expansive.
We enjoyed walking down to the river after our visit to check out the views. There are several kid-friendly thoughtful, interactive exhibits, making this one of the most popular family-friendly attractions in Chattanooga. We walked across the street where there is a large open area and families were out playing ball games. On this particular day, there were giant see-saws out for families and at night, a glow-in-the-dark display! This lawn space also has concerts and other activities, so check out what's going on when you visit.
We then walked to Agave and Rye for lunch, just across the street from the aquarium, and had some amazing appetizers and specialty tacos. The art on the walls is incredible!
Another good option for an additional activity is to grab one of the local bikes to rent and take a tour around town. Rent and drop and ride to various locations around town. Also, there is the Playcore playground along the river just a block away to take the kids for additional playtime outdoors!
Note: I’ve been to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta – and while this one is smaller – the Tennessee Aquarium was markedly less crowded and felt more manageable with younger kids.
Also note: there’s an annual family membership of $175 that may be worth your while if you live in Chattanooga or you plan to visit more than a couple of times each year.
Per the website, the length of visitation averages 2.5 hours (this was true for us as well). Your ticket includes admission to both Aquarium buildings and allows you to come and go all day long.